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Quantico drinking water is discolored, but base officials say its safe to drink

Residents who live aboard Quantico Marine Corps Base are reporting a funky discoloration to their water.

For the past three days, Quantico officials say they’ve received multiple phone calls from concerned residents who say the water color is off. That has led to the additional testing of the water on base, and officials tell us they’re looking for the cause of the problem.

Recent tests, however, show the water is safe to drink, they say. The discoloration may become from a higher than normal concentration of manganese in the water, added base officials.

There’s also the fact that, in the past three months, the base switched it source of drinking water — and then switched back again.

From a press release issued today by Quantico officials:

Over the last three months, PWB switched to water from our primary source, Breckenridge Reservoir, to our secondary source at Grey Reservoir, while work was being done on the dam a Breckenridge Reservoir.

This past week construction reached a point where water could be switched back to Breckenridge. However, upon doing so water plant operators noticed high organic material in the water and switched back to Grey until the cause could be determined.

Organic material comes from decayed leaves, tree debris and vegetation. Manganese is a natural mineral commonly found in rocks and soil and thus also found in waterways. The increased levels of manganese in the treated water are believed to be causing the discoloration.

During the treatment process, the MCBQ Water Treatment Plant uses chlorine to disinfect the water and control manganese levels to make the water clear and safe for drinking. These levels are being adjusted to account for the higher concentrations of manganese.

Manganese is not a health hazard and is not regulated by the EPA as a drinking water contaminant. EPA considers manganese a secondary contaminant for aesthetic reasons only. The EPA level for manganese, for aesthetic purposes, is 0.05 mg/l. Current manganese levels tested in housing this morning are around 0.002 mg/l to 0.05 mg/l for Thomason Park and Lyman Park West. Lyman Park East tested at 0.08 mg/l. The higher concentrations in Lyman Park East are above EPA’s aesthetic level, but there is still no health concern. Although the other two housing areas are below EPA’s aesthetic level, these concentrations can still cause discoloration.

The safety of MCBQ’s water supply is our top priority. As part of its regulatory oversight, the Virginia Department of Health-Office of Drinking Water works closely with MCBQ PWB and the Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs (NREA) Branch to monitor water production at our water treatment plant. The department’s most recent review of drinking water sampling data shows that the utility is meeting all Safe Drinking Water Act standards. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused and ask for your continued patience as our crews work to resolve the discoloration issue.

For further information or to report water discoloration in base housing areas, call Lincoln Military Housing Maintenance at 1-888-578-4141.

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